Courtesy of Elizabeth Rajnik
You’ve had a stressful day with online school. Your computer kept dying; Google Meet was glitching; and your microphone was not working. On top of that, you have a hefty workload and a busy afternoon. You’re angry and frustrated. All you want to do is throw your uncooperative computer on the ground.
You really need a rage room.
What is a Rage Room?
Rage rooms are all the rage in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C./Frederick area. Also known as smash or anger rooms, rage rooms allow participants to vent frustration and stress by destroying, breaking, and shattering items in a safe environment.
Filled with glass bottles, tractor tires, and old appliances, rage rooms allow participants to vent the anger they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do at home or in the workplace.
My friends and I recently had a 60-minute smash fest at Room of Rage, located in Laurel, Maryland. At first sight, Room of Rage looks like an average store in a strip mall. Nothing special.
Inside, there are colorful graffiti-filled walls and a line of protective camo jumpsuits.
The atmosphere is rebellious.
“Come leave it all behind,” is a fitting motto. The camo jumpsuit made me feel empowered to pick up a baseball bat and start smashing.
The Rage Room Experience
I think rage rooms are a healthy and safe way to rid stress with friends, family, or even co-workers.
“The purpose of a Rage Room is an opportunity to relieve stress in an alternative manner. It is something different for fun and entertainment. We have seen people ‘come and leave it behind,’ resulting in better health outcomes for them and their families. The reason we bring up families is because many people return with their kids or their loved ones to experience the Room of Rage,” said Linwood Cole, co-owner of Room of Rage.
The business offers a variety of packages: Kid Rage, Blowing Off Some Steam, Psycho, BYOB (Bring Your Own Breakables), Date Night, Psycho Date Night, Monday Madness Psycho, Thursday Thrashing Psycho, and small, medium, and large party packages. Each package varies in number of people and items to smash.
“Customers book their experiences online through our website. When they arrive, they are dressed for safety, given the rules, and sign our waiver. Once they enter the Room of Rage, fully dressed and oriented to the process, they are allowed to break the things in their package. All customers have the option to purchase additional items before or during their Rage to add to their experience,” said Cole.
The breakables include cups, glasses, dinner plates, beer bottles, stoves, washers, dryers, computers, and printers.
For a more personal experience, my friends and I created a rage room playlist, and rage room employees were able to sync my phone to provide surround-sound music while raging.
Senior Tabitha Knedeisen enjoyed the freedom to rage to her favorite song.
“I liked that they let you play music. You even got to pick the songs to set the mood. It was fun to just let loose. It’s not normal to smash things around your house, so it was fun to have a place where they encourage it,” said Knedeisen.
Room of Rage isn’t the only rage room in the area. Breakdown Rage Room offers “destruction therapy” in Hanover, PA.
Samantha Morris, owner of Breakdown Rage Room originally learned about the existence of rage rooms in Asia and Eastern Europe ten years ago. She was fascinated.
“I spent years researching the businesses overseas, and when rage rooms started popping up in the United States, I avidly followed their progress as well. Additionally, we are society flush with waste. We have spent our lives accumulating things, collecting things that are no longer useful. Our lives are cluttered with unnecessary objects,” said Morris.
“As an antique dealer, I see once valuable, treasured items sell for a fraction of what they were once worth or not sell at all and proceed directly to a landfill. I knew with a rage room, I would be able to give those items new purpose, if only for a moment, before they went to their ultimate destination,” Morris added.
Breakdown Rage Room’s mission is simple: “We are here to make things easier, not harder.” Their goal is for customers to leave Breakdown Rage Room feeling more at peace and less stressed than when they had arrived.
I’d say that worked for me. I left the rage room smiling and feeling quite a bit less angry with my current senior woes. Somehow, the problems felt easier for me to tackle.
Morris compares the experience of rage rooms similar to that of a “runner’s high.”
“The rage room works very similarly to going to the gym, it’s just a little more exciting and it’s totally appropriate to cry here. When you are breaking items, you are getting exercise. Your brain responds by releasing dopamine and endorphins which make you feel happy. Your adrenaline increases, making you feel energized. Whether you really concentrate on specific issues that are frustrating you or just blindly smash, your brain is going to react to your activity and you will feel better,” said Morris.
Similar to Room of Rage, Breakdown Rage Room as a variety of packages. All breakables are provided by Breakdown Rage Room and ethically sourced.
“We get the majority of our breakables from auctions and estate sales. Being an antique dealer, I have developed relationships with many auctioneers in the region and instead of them paying to send items to the landfill, they sell it to me to smash,” said Morris. “We also accept donations of breakables from individuals who are decluttering their homes or disposing of items that no longer work. It can be very expensive to dispose of broken electronics, but we will take them for free. We have relationships with local thrift stores and charity organizations as well and they will often drop off items that they are unable to sell or use.”
The Trade-Off between Rage and Danger
Some might might be inclined to see a rage room as dangerous. Given the freedom to smash and break as you please must come with precaution. Fortunately, Room of Rage ensures that their guests have a safe experience.
“In the inception of Room of Rage, we gave a lot of thought to this, and we made many changes in the beginning months. We started with plastic coveralls, and now we give full flight suits that cover the entire body. We also started with plastic face shields and now we have helmet with face shields that covers the entire head. We have safety precautions that are stated in our rules, for example, there are no more than two people participating in the space at one time, ” said Cole.
Morris agrees that rage rooms aren’t the safest activity, but Breakdown Rage Room has precautions in place.
“Raging in a rage room is not a safe activity. It can be less dangerous, if you are mindful of your surroundings and wear the proper safety equipment provided, but broken glass is always sharp and there is always the possibility of injury. We have a waiver that we require before you are allowed to enter the rage room that states that you understand the risks and that you are healthy enough to participate,” said Morris.
Senior Ella Haskins thought it was both a fun and safe way to vent some stress.
“I would definitely do another rage room and have already recommended it to others because it was a safe way to aggressively let out some tension. This is a stressful time for many people, and I think rage rooms will become more and more popular as the word spreads,” Haskins said.
Do Rage Rooms really work?
While many people have enjoyed the rage room experience, some question their effectiveness. Is smashing bottles helping vent the anger, or making it worse? And are they really benefiting mental health?
Clinical psychologist, Dr. Scott Bea from the Cleveland Clinic, suggests in an article that rage rooms are a good temporary fix but are not the solution to long-term anger.
“There probably is a discharge of pent-up emotion in those moments, but I think it’s probably short-lived. Smashing stuff might give you some short-term relief, but it won’t do much to help you solve chronic anger problems,” writes Bea.
Dr. Bea also finds that rage rooms only reinforce negative coping mechanisms. While rage rooms allow participants to expel immediate anger, speaking with a therapist to work on relaxation techniques and communication skills is the most effective solution.
“The much greater challenge is to learn more appropriate ways of noticing and expressing anger. It’s important for people to take responsibility for their actions and to learn different ways to react,” said Bea.
Ella Haskins agrees that rage rooms can be a good temporary fix.
“I would say that rage rooms most likely benefit mental health on a short term scale, but I would not stretch to claim it is a fix for a bad mental state. I think it is a fun way to quickly let out some anger with friends,” Haskins said.
Morris knows that rage rooms are not the sole solution in dealing with stress and anger, but it can open the door to other therapy methods.
“I believe rage rooms can be extremely helpful for some people to deal with negative feelings, but they are not the whole answer, nor are they the answer for everyone. Rage rooms work especially well in conjunction with behavioral health therapy and professional counseling for people with mental health issues, trauma and grief.”
For people suffering from mental health issues caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, the rage room can sometimes kick start the production of the chemicals they are lacking, but ultimately a doctor should be making suggestions about long term answers, since the rage room can only offer a short term fix. The rage room can open the door for you to deal with your emotions, but it will be up to you to walk through and do the hard work necessary to combat your issues,” said Morris.
And while teens’ problems tend to seem minuscule in comparison to the stressors of adults, rage rooms have no age limits! Before providing us with the rage room experience, Maryanne Thompson, the mother of senior Gabby Thompson, tested it out herself.
“I decided to attend a rage room because it looked like a fun way to release anxiety and frustration, while also laughing and singing at the top of my lungs!” said Thompson. “After this last year and a half, a little screaming and shouting and just letting it all out on inanimate objects felt amazing.”
So, should YOU rage?
Just because rage rooms don’t scientifically benefit mental health doesn’t mean they need to be avoided! It’s okay to seek temporary relief in smashing a television or throwing a mug against the wall.
Entering rage rooms with the goal to have fun rather than fixing all of your problems is the key to having a good experience.
I found that throwing bottles, smashing washers, and hitting tires helped me deal with my anger and stress. As a Class of 2021 senior dealing with graduation during a pandemic, finalizing college plans, leaving friends in a few short months, and dealing with teenage relationship issues, rage rooms helped me recognize my feelings and get rid of them in a safe, controlled environment.
Senior Gabby Thompson agrees. She enjoyed the unique bonding experience with friends.
“I would recommend it to others because it’s something different to do that not a lot of people know about. I thought it would be a fun way for me and my friends to get out our anger,” said Thompson.
In a society that doesn’t accept open anger and aggression, I believe that rage rooms provide a safe and healthy outlet for people to both confront and deal with their feelings. As they continue to break societal norms, I expect that rage rooms will grow increasingly as their benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
“I would recommend the rage room to anyone feeling angry, frustrated, sad, or powerless. Our customers come from all walks of life and we are here for all of them. We have served customers dealing with toxic family, bullies, terminal illness, depression, anxiety and abuse. We have customers who are recovering from the trauma of assault, grief and abandonment. They have all expressed that they felt much better after the experience we provided. Even if your problems are not as catastrophic as those mentioned, the rage room can be a judgement free place to just scream your frustration into the void. Leave the toxicity here, in pieces on the floor for us to dispose of, and return to the world relaxed and ready for whatever comes next,” said Morris.